"Iona Dreaming: The Healing Power of Place, A Memoir," by Clare Cooper Marcus will strike a deep chord in anyone who loves nature, plants and gardens. When I was telling a friend about my interest in healing gardens he mentioned he'd seen the author speak abouth her memoir (thanks, Dick Turner) and I tracked it down...what a beautifully written, moving book about how landscapes resonate, and can change our lives.
For Clare Cooper Marcus, a landscape architect at the University of California, Berkeley, the Scottish island of Iona saved her life after two bouts of cancer in as many years. Just at the time she was working on a book on healing gardens she found herself in need of nurturance and healing herself. She retired early, and went on a mostly solitary retreat to the wild, magical island of Iona.
She writes movingly of her loneliness, her failed marriage, her love of her Berkeley garden. She feels that simplifying her life and immersing herself in nature cured her cancer. She reads, writes and walks all over the island for months; she slows down and sheds her academic activities and all the ego-driven work that went with it.
"Are we awake or dreaming on this earth? On this island, it is easy to dream with eyes wide open. Days merge like drifting clouds. Birds sing to the earth in ways we have lost," she writes, as she contemplates sea, sky, sun and storms. The dailiness and immediacy of gulls and sheep, dune grasses and solitude become her reality as she sinks into the rhythm of this quiet island and heals.
The author's writing is as beautiful as the island of Iona....